As founder of the Hearts Linked by Courage series, and contributing author and creator of the first book, I am truly humbled by the belief that CMHA Director of Programs, Neil Howard, and the Speaker’s Bureau, had in my vision. I’m thrilled to unveil the second book in the series, featuring their real-life stories of challenge, triumph, and hope.

None of us are spared hardships in life. When it comes to mental illness, most of us have been affected in some way, or know of someone who has been gripped with the challenges associated with depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, addiction, and so on.

The stories from the CMHA York and South Simcoe Speakers’ Bureau both educate and inspire, and address the many choices and turning points in each journey. They instil confidence and belief that, no matter the circumstance, we are strong enough to rise above the most challenging situations life can dish out. They have opened their hearts, bared their souls, and bravely revealed to us the light at the end of the tunnel.

Read on and enjoy my interview with Neil Howard, CMHA York and South Simcoe:2016-Final-Hearts_linked_cmha_cover LowRes

What inspired you to write this book and embrace the Hearts Linked by Courage project for your organization?

The CMHA Speakers’ Bureau has been meeting for six years and is always looking for new ways to communicate with people about recovery from mental illness, and to reduce stigma. Through discussion with you, Sheri, and Gayle at I C Publishing, I was immensely impressed by your knowledge, compassion, and professionalism on mental health and publishing. You both attended a Speakers Bureau meeting, and we were “off to the races.”

What do you want others to gain from your book?

We want to impart an understanding that people are not their mental illness, and that those with mental illness are equally able to lead a rich and fulfilling life.

What was the creative process like for you and your story contributors?

The Speakers’ Bureau was well positioned to take full advantage of creating a book. This group of passionate CMHA volunteers meet on a regular basis to hone their public speaking skills and conduct numerous public presentations. Through this process, they already had a personal story to share.Hearts_cover_front

You, Sheri, already had the concept and inspiring example from your first book in the series; so together, it was a relatively small step to put this material into a suitable and complementary format.

What resonated with you and your contributors about the Hearts Linked by Courage series?

Because storytelling, sharing our personal journeys, is at the very core of what the Speakers Bureau does, we know that it’s one of the most powerful ways to hold people’s interest, present a sensitive topic, and to educate.

What’s next for you as an organization, and group of authors?

We look forward to hearing from and engaging with our readers, and participating in local events and book signings to spread our message.

What can one do to help share your thoughtful message and enlightening work in our community?

Inviting member(s) from our Speakers’ Bureau, also Hearts Linked by Courage story contributors, to speak at your business, group, or organization, would be very meaningful to us. Encouraging others to gift or pick up a copy or two of our new book, Hearts Linked by Courage – Real-life stories of challenge, triumph, and hope, would truly touch our hearts as well.

In closing, I have always been moved by those who seem to go through such tragedy and upset in their lives, yet find a way to look at the bright side, such as what they learned, how they grew, and who they helped along their path. This has always motivated me to do the same as much as I possibly can. It’s also what contributed to the dream I had for the Hearts Linked by Courage series.

Again, I am indebted to Neil and the story contributors whose words have brought to life the second book in this series. Perhaps they’ve even sowed the seed and example of how other groups can benefit by using the Hearts Linked by Courage series to share their own stories of education and hope.

Warmest regards,

Sheri Andrunyk

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